Designs on a positive future
Griffith University student Bianca Archer says architecture is about building something positive, strong and sustainable.
Yet too often in Bianca's life, such qualities have been difficult to find. Hopefully, that situation is now changing.
The recipient of one of 60 Abedian Foundation Griffith Futures Scholarships for 2017, the 22-year-old Architectural Design student now has the support and stability she needs to help fulfil her dreams.
It’s been a long time coming.
Bianca was 13 when her family traded an idyllic lifestyle in Airlie Beach for a small rural town in NSW.
The logic behind the move was something many would find impossible to understand, but Bianca had no choice.
“I was always such an active girl, a free spirit, and it was all just taken away,” she recalls.
"There are things I prefer not to go into, apart from to say it felt like I was in another world. I knew I was in a bad place. Nowhere felt safe.
“I rebelled. I experienced some bad stuff. There was so much dysfunction and I was caught up in the middle of it.”
At 15, relocating to the Sunshine Coast with her mother led to a kind of restoration for Bianca.
With a stronger support network, her academic performance improved and her leadership qualities were recognised when she was appointed sports house captain.
Yet family issues continued to impact, leading to battles with prescribed depression, anxiety, extreme debt and an overall feeling of helplessness.
“I know what it's like to have no say, so I finally struck out on my own," says Bianca.
"I have always been eager to give new opportunities a go in pursuit of financial freedom. My resume is extremely diverse and includes working in remote hospitality in the Queensland mines. That position was challenging in so many ways.
"I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe it has made me a stronger person and I truly believe it brought me here at the right time in my life."
Here is Griffith University, and Bianca smiles when she talks about the architectural design degree she is studying at the Gold Coast campus.
So determined was she to pursue the degree that initially she made the return train journey from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast several times a week.
Bianca now lives on the Gold Coast and her Abedian Foundation scholarship acknowledges her commitment and potential.
"I’ve always had a passion for architecture and I'm the first person in my family to attend university,” she says.
“I wish to lead by example and be a source of inspiration, especially to my younger brother. Considering our past experiences, I want to show him what's possible. "And despite all that's happened over the years, I love my family and they are a source of great moral support.
“They're not in a position to help me financially, which is why this scholarship is so wonderful. Great things are happening at last.”
To exemplify that point, Bianca recently won an architectural design competition for the Australians of Indian Heritage War Memorial. A monument based on her design will stand in the Memorial Garden at Brisbane’s Sunnybank RSL.
“That was such a thrill. It made me even more certain that I am aligned with my true purpose and I’m on the right track,” she says.
“With my surname being Archer, I often relate to the symbolism associated with being an archer; an arrow has to be pulled backward before it can be launched forwards towards something greater.
"Step by step, day by day, I will continue my journey in education, health and wellbeing to make my dreams a reality and make a positive contribution to the world."